Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Eating and Stress: What not to Eat

We’re all tired of being told about the things that are bad for us. If you’re battling stress  understanding the impact of bad choices on you, and your body, is important.

Many of us look for a boost mid-morning or mid-afternoon. This is the most challenging time for many people in terms of healthy eating. Most easy things are not good for us.

When cravings hit do you find sweets irresistible? They are the most tempting things for me.  Sugar gives you that quick boost. Have you ever noticed how quickly you can feel its effects? Sweets can be very compelling, almost addictive.

Stable blood sugar is an important factor in keeping stress levels down. The issue is the sudden spikes then drops in your blood glucose. This is true of anything sweet. Processed sugar is the biggest culprit, but even honey, or fruit juice, can have undesirable effects. Whole fruit is really the only way to go if you are craving something sweet. If you wan to learn more about the mechanics of blood sugar see my post: Eating and Stress: Your Blood Sugar.

The second thing that people reach for is caffeine. The most common sources of caffeine are coffee, black tea, colas, and  green tea. Caffeine is a drug, and like any drug its effects different people differently. If you doubt the addictive qualities of caffeine try quitting coffee. The headaches and anxiousness should be enough to convince you. Caffeine also enters the bloodstream quickly and gives us an almost immediate boost.

Consumption of large amounts of caffeine can lead to nervousness, irritability, restlessness, insomnia, headaches, and heart palpitations. It may also keep you from sleeping well.  All of that physical stress will make dealing with other stressors more difficult. You may pay the price for that quick energy burst with a more stressed out life.
Energy drinks are a fairly new issue. They are almost always an unhealthy cocktail of sugar and caffeine. Even when derived from natural sources the effects are the same. Consuming sugar and caffeine together will increase the energy boost but also the crashes and side-effects. Avoid energy drinks altogether.
Do reach for sugary foods, caffeinated beverages, or energy drinks to get a boost? Have you every experienced any of the negative side-effects? I’d love to hear about your experiences.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Truths to Live By: Your Birthright

We came to this life in order to learn and grow. Challenges are part of it, misery and suffering are not. It is our birthright to be joyful, successful and loved. These are the Universal values that the Yoruba have handed down to us.

There is no doubt that some people have taken on difficult and very challenging Life Paths. Yet, even in the face of those challenges, there can be joy. Indeed some of the most challenged people on the planet are the happiest.

Whatever you have suffered in your past is meant to be dealt with so that you can claim your birthright for the future. To realize your potential for success, joy and love, you must give up your victim mentality. There is nothing you can do to change your past. Your present challenges are what they are. You  are always in charge of your reactions.

Many respected people came from backgrounds that seem impossibly difficult. They rose to the challenge and were victorious. Were they special? Stronger, smarter, luckier, than you? No.

You chose your path and you have all the resources you need to make the best of it. Do the work you need to do to move through your fear and doubt and emerge as the joyful and fulfilled person you were meant to be.

You may have to let go of anger and resentment for past hurts. You may have to reevaluate what’s really important to you so that you can see the good that flows into your life. Do the work to set yourself free.

The Yoruba were a happy, optimistic people. They knew that if they trusted in the benevolence of the Universe, walked their path with dignity and joy, that they would be able to claim the promise Ifa makes. It is your birthright to be joyful, successful and to be loved, right here, right now. There is no need to wait for the promise of heaven.

Have you been able to step forward and claim your birthright? I’d love to hear why, or why not.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Eating and Stress: Three Meals

 When, what, and how we eat affects stress levels. Making small changes goes a long way to help you deal with stress more effectively. It is something that is completely under your control.

You should eat at least three, balanced, meals every day. Eating five or six a day could be even better. Experiment to see if you are a grazer. If so, remember to adjust your meal sizes so that you are eating a reasonable amount of food.

“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” is one piece of grandma’s advice that you should listen to. You will be healthier, and have milder stress reactions, if you eat a good breakfast. Some studies suggest that breakfast should be your largest meal.

When you wake up your body is starving. Make time to have a simple breakfast that includes carbohydrates, protein and fat. My favourite, is a smoothie with some frozen berries, milk, and protein powder. I can make it in 5 minutes. Skipping breakfast starts your day with stress.

If you’re a grazer make sure you have a healthy mid-morning snack.

 Once your day gets going it is easy to have lunch late. If it’s been almost 7 hours since breakfast your blood sugar is plummeting. Your brain is screaming for energy. Smart food choices will be harder to make.

Schedule your lunch. Try to fit it in about four hours after breakfast.  Keep your body fuelled and your blood sugar stable. You’ll be more resilient to stress. Include protein, healthy carbs, and some good fat.

For the grazers, remember to have something quick to gobble up mid-afternoon.

The day is done. You may have worked late, have  a family to deal with.You’re tempted to eat poorly. Your last meal of the day fuels your body until morning. A moderate sized, balanced, meal will not only help you feel better when you wake up, but, it will also help you to sleep better tonight.

Some grazers like to have a snack before bed. That is fine, but, it should be small. Give yourself at least an hour to digest before sleeping. High protein nighttime snacks may actually prevent you from getting to sleep.

How are your eating habits? Do you find it challenging to get the right food at the right time? I'd love to hear why, or why not?

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Power of a Hurricane

Last week we experienced an upheaval that affected a huge number of people. I’d like to explore the two Orisa energies that came together to create the “Frankenstorm” Sandy.

My heart and prayers go out to everyone who has been affected by this natural catastrophe. I, along with many Ifa priests, aligned with the energies involved to ask them to minimize the impact that this powerful event would have on the loss of human life. The Orisa, however, see a bigger picture than we can.

Two powerful, protective, and sometimes violent energies came together. They are Oya, the energy of the wind, bringer of sudden change, and Yemonja/Olokun the twin Orisas of the sea, stern nurturers. The ferocity of the wind and the temper of the sea can be awesome. They have sent us a clear message about the shifts we are creating in our climate.

Yemonja/Olokun are the energies of stern nurturing. They are caring. They provide wealth. They feed us with the bounty of the ocean. Their generosity comes at a price. Like any good parent, they expect us to behave with good character, to learn to care for ourselves and others. We need to grow. We need to appreciate the gifts that they give us by honouring the ocean and its creatures.

Oya is about change. About embracing what has happened, its impact on you, its affect on people you know and love. We each need to ask ourselves what needs to change. How can you flow with what has happened? What do you need to shift for the future?

We also need to look at the bigger picture. How can we humans come into balance with nature. What part can you play? Start by connecting with these energies. Thanking them for the shifts and awareness that they have created.

We are told by climate scientists that this is just the beginning. Human activity has created these extreme events. We will continue to suffer from more and more devastation until we change.

When the shock is over, the grieving done, it is time to work together to find the balance. How has the storm affected you personally? Has it impacted the way that you see nature? I’d love to know why, or why not.

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